Clever Chicken by Megan Rix

TheGreatFireDogs_COV FINALI’ve just received an advance copy of my next book ‘The Great Fire Dogs’ to be published by Puffin at the end of August and sent it straight off to Zach because I loved his letter about my books and his dog 🙂 It doesn’t feel like very long ago I was going through the proofs (and it wasn’t!). This is when all the final changes need to be made and everything checked before the book’s published. The stages I normally go through are my initial idea – just a line usually. Then I expand the idea to a paragraph, a few pages of outline, draft 1 and usually 2 and 3 but often 4 and 5 too, followed by copy-editing to check I’ve got all my facts right. I nearly always do get them right because I’m very careful and I’d hate to get something wrong. My copy-editor makes doubly sure plus she or he checks my grammar is not too awful and that my spelling matches the house style. There might be two copy-edits and then two sets of proofs to go through. Plus all the illustrations and maps need to be checked for accuracy. The book’s set during 1665 and 1666 when Finsbury Park area was just Finsbury Fields.

turnspitdogdrawingThis time there’s going to be a drawing of a turnspit dog in a cooking wheel from the time and as part of the research for the book we went to Laycock where they have an original wheel. It was much too small for my golden retrievers to fit in and I would never let them get in one. But some dogs had to work in the kitchen back then.

The reason this blog’s called Clever Chicken is because in part of the book I have some chickens escaping from the Great Fire of London by copying what one of my dog heroes, Tiger Lily, does to get out of the cage she’s been imprisoned in, and the copy-editor asked if chickens really were all that clever? I replied immediately that yes of course they’re clever and yes they could do what I have them do. Have you heard of clicker trained chickens? Clickers are usually known for being used to help train dogs but also lots of other animals including goats and horses by giving a click sound to say – yes you got it right – along with a treat that has to be given immediately so they know just what they did right.  Obviously training chickens has some elements to it that make it more challenging than training dogs as they can be nervous and skittish. But here’s a link to some more of the clever things they can do.  And what about Stella the goat! And these bunnies 🙂

I think I could probably learn to do lots of new things if my clicker training was accompanied by some tasty chocolate treats. What would you pick as your reward?

Look out for a competition to win a copy of The Great Fire Dogs coming soon.

And see you next month! 🙂